‘Dolphin Tale’ Aquarium Drops Animal Performances
The Clearwater Aquarium has announced it will no longer feature any animal performances, focusing instead on the rehabilitation and care of marine animals.
The aquarium got some major publicity in 2011 when the movie ‘Dolphin Tale’ was released telling the story of Winter, a dolphin who was fitted with a prosthetic tail at the aquarium. Later this month, ‘Dolphin Tale 2’ telling the story of another dolphin, Hope, will be released in theaters. Both movies were shot at the Florida location and are based on the aquarium’s rescue and rehabilitation of both dolphins.
According to the aquarium’s CEO David Yates, stories like Hope and Winter’s will be the focus of the aquarium when its new center opens later this year.
“We don’t rescue them so we can have them to show to guests,” he said. “Our goal is to release them back into the wild. The whole essence of this thing is no matter what animals we have or don’t have, the experience of getting behind the scenes of our work, that’s going to be the draw long-term.”
The decision to spare the marine animals from being used for entertainment also proved to be highly financially savvy. The costs of building the new center were cut by almost $100 million by not having to build facilities like a dolphin stadium.
Instead, the new Clearwater Aquarium will have bigger tanks (Hope and Winter’s will be three times the size of what they live in now) and platforms and walkways so guests can see staff working with the rescued animals.
The Clearwater Aquarium is one of the facilities adjusting its practices following the ‘Blackfish’ movement that started in 2013. Since the horrors that whales captured by SeaWorld were exposed in the documentary, other marine parks like the National Aquarium in Baltimore is considering ending its dolphin exhibit and moving the animals to a sanctuary. The Virginia Aquarium is working on a new exhibit that will show guests how their staff care for rescued animals.
And in the meantime, SeaWorld, with plummeting stocks and declining visitor numbers, is building bigger tanks for its captured whales that will continue to be forced to perform for guests. Seems like they could learn a thing or two about how a marine park can be truly educational. Hint: it does not involve flips and splashes done to loud music for an audience.
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